Pokémon Go‘s current global Ultra Bonus event includes perhaps the most intriguing perk trainers have experienced so far: eggs that hatch region exclusives. For the remainder of September, all 7-kilometer eggs, which previously only housed the Alolan variants, have a chance of also containing the Kanto regionals Mr. Mime, Kangaskhan, Tauros, and Farfetch’d.
When the mobile game first launched, developer Niantic made certain Pokémon exclusive to various parts of the world, including North America, Australia, Europe, and Japan, meaning the only way trainers could acquire the selected creatures was by physically traveling to those locations. Of course, since a majority of players don’t have the time or funds to travel often, the announcement of the egg event has mostly been met with praise.
However, with the event now underway, trainers have discovered a huge downside. The event’s egg pool, meaning all Pokémon that can hatch from them, includes not only the regionals and Alolan ‘mons but also Generation I’s Tangela and Porygon. Trainers on Pokémon Go‘s subreddit and official Twitter have been expressing their confusion over the decision to add the Pokémon to the eggs, noting that they seem to be the most common hatch out of the new pool.
While Niantic did make it clear before the event that the 7 km eggs would include the Alolan forms and regionals, there was no mention that Tangela and Porygon would be in the mix. Transparency has never been the developer’s strong suit, with the EX raid system’s format being another source of frustration for players, so the secrecy about the egg pool isn’t that shocking. But what is undeniably abnormal is the possible reason why these two seemingly random Pokémon were thrown into this event. Their inclusion doesn’t feel like a bonus at all, but instead, a slam against free-to-play trainers.
Despite how it might appear at first glance, Pokémon Go is not a pay-to-win mobile experience. Yes, users can spend real money to buy helpful items from the in-game shop, but a majority of the gameplay is RNG-based. For example, trainers that buy extra raid passes or egg incubators will have more chances to earn new Pokémon, but receiving a more powerful or rare one is never guaranteed. One trainer could hatch 25 eggs and never see anything great, while a player using their one free incubator could hatch a rare shiny. Because of this, there’s a large number of players that rely solely on the free items that are offered daily for battling/hatching Pokémon.
It’s only in limited-time events, like the Ultra Bonus, that this side of the community uses every resource available. In turn, the unnecessary additions could translate as a slap in the face to trainers who don’t spend on the game. The developer must know that free players will be using the incubators they’ve saved for months during the Ultra Bonus. To further decrease their chances of earning something new essentially tells those players that their efforts at saving have been futile.
If only Alolan Pokémon and the regionals were in the pool, as Niantic originally promised, then they would have at least been guaranteed something new that hasn’t been available to acquire elsewhere. That’s the point of a limited-time event. It should be a time for players that have waited to use all of their resources to have the best possible chance at getting something worthwhile. It’s also plunging the knife deepers into players’ backs by making the two outliers the most common hatch option and the region exclusives “super rare.”
Players on the other side of the conversation that spend hundreds each month are also receiving the message that they should just spend more. Sure, they would have purchased incubator after incubator to get as many Pokémon as possible anyway, but Niantic has essentially guaranteed with Tangela and Porygon involved that it will take more microtransactions than expected to find the Pokémon that were supposed to lead the event. For a game that has done reasonably well catering to both types of player, this decision seems uncharacteristically greedy and shameful.
What makes the blatant crash grab more apparent is that Porygon and Tangela’s inclusion in this specific pool doesn’t add up. The 7 km eggs are tied to the Friend gifts, the items that trainers can acquire by visiting PokéStops and Gyms in their area. Then, they can send them to any of their friends across the globe. For the Friend eggs to exclusively house Alolan forms worked because they were Pokémon from a new region. The region exclusives also fit into this idea, as getting an egg from a different part of the world should have a chance of housing a Pokémon a trainer typically wouldn’t see nearby. Porygon and Tangela have been available worldwide since the game initially launched in both the wild and in eggs. They’ve also been raid bosses recently, giving trainers more chances to find them. Why they would be included in the trade-exclusive egg pool themed after travel is beyond me.
Microtransactions are nothing new, but over the past year more and more developers and publishers have been put on blast for relying too heavily on the feature. As I previously said, Pokémon Go has had microtransactions from the beginning, but they’ve never been forced on players. That’s why it’s so odd and disappointing to see Niantic take this route. Hopefully, this will ultimately become a one-time misstep and a learning opportunity for the developer’s future efforts. For now, though, trainers searching for region exclusives might just have to wait to trade for one with a kind friend.